Summary: No one has ever regretted establishing a guardrail—ever—but there are plenty of us and there are plenty of people who look back and wish that they had.

We’re starting this brand new series, Guardrails, and if you can’t remember the name of

the series—this should be unforgettable. We’re pretty excited about this. Now, everybody knows

what a guardrail is, but you probably don’t know the official definition of a guardrail. And for

those of you who are kind of grammar people, who are going to get really messed up with this

whole series, let me go ahead and tell you—guardrail can be two words, and it can be one word,

okay? So, if you thought it was one or the other, we can work it both ways. In fact, in our

literature, we use it both ways just to make everybody happy and bother everybody.

A guardrail is actually a system designed to keep vehicles from straying into dangerous

or off-limit areas. Got that? A guardrail—you use them all the time, you’ve been impacted—

they’re simply a system, this entire system, designed to keep vehicles from straying (that’s the

word we’re going to key off of), from straying into dangerous or off-limit areas. Now, again,

nobody pays attention to guardrails unless you need one. There are all different kinds of

guardrails. We were going to show you a whole bunch of different kinds of pictures, but it’s kind

of irrelevant. Guardrails are that invisible part of our driving experience. We’re glad they’re

there when we need them, but for the most part, we pay no attention to them. You generally find

guardrails in one of three areas. You find guardrails on bridges, because on a bridge there’s very,

very little margin for error. You find them on bridges. You also find them in medians, in medians

to keep us from, in areas of driving, where we’re very, very close to people moving in the

opposite direction. The closer we are to people who are moving in the opposite direction, the

more we need protection. The third area where you find guardrails, specifically, is around

curves—unexpected changes in roadside conditions.

Now the really interesting thing about guardrails, and again this is what we’re going to

kind of key off of in this series, is that, generally speaking, guardrails are not actually located in

the most dangerous part of the road. Guardrails are actually located and constructed in areas

where you could actually drive, if you think about it. The point of a guardrail isn’t to say, don’t

drive on this particular piece of real estate. The point of a guardrail is it’s the piece of real estate

just beyond the guardrail that’s a point of danger: oncoming traffic, curves, mountainsides, edges

of bridges, or whatever it might be. So, generally speaking, guardrails are actually constructed in

areas where theoretically and actually you could drive, but guardrails are there to keep us from

moving into an area where there’s actual danger.

But when it comes to guardrails, nobody really argues the point and says, Hey, I don’t

know why they put guardrails around the edge of the bridge. They need to take the guardrails

off, because actually I could drive closer to the edge of the bridge if they would just move the

silly guardrails. We understand in driving that there needs to be some margin for error. The

theory behind a guardrail is that you will do less damage to your body, and even in some cases

less damage to your car, if you hit a guardrail than if you actually hit what was on the other side

of the guardrail, or if you actually went off the side of something that would cause damage to

you or your car. So the whole idea is it’s okay to cause a little bit of damage in order to keep you from creating and experiencing a lot of damage, either to your physical body or to your car. So

that’s kind of the idea behind a guardrail.

Now, what we’re going to do in the next few weeks is we’re going to talk about this

whole idea of guardrails as it relates not simply to driving, because that’s pretty apparent, but to

other areas of our lives. Because the truth is, and I think we’re going to build this case

throughout these next few weeks as we do this series, your greatest regret relationally—and you

hear me say these kinds of things all the time—your greatest regret financially, your greatest

regret morally, your greatest regret ethically, maybe professionally—chances are your greatest

regret could have been avoided. And if you think of it in terms of driving, that ditch that you

went off into, that cliff that you rolled off into relationally, however you want to describe it, your

greatest regret could probably have been avoided and would probably have been avoided if you

had had some guardrails in your area, in your life financially, morally, relationally, in your

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